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Trump’s Middle-East Mirage

History suggests that any peace negotiation has only a small chance of succeeding, because agreement requires compromise, which in turn requires leaders who are both willing and able to make concessions and sell them to their respective publics. When it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict, neither condition seems to exist.

NEW YORK – Enough time has passed to read and digest all 180-plus pages of what the US government calls “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People.” It is also referred to (sometimes derisively) as “The Deal of the Century.” Or, more neutrally, it is described as the latest American peace plan for the Middle East.

Except it is not. The proposal – overseen by White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and released by Trump on January 28 – is not a plan for peace. If it were, it would not have been developed by the United States and Israel without meaningful Palestinian input. It would not have been released with a just-indicted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu standing by Trump’s side, in the midst of the US president’s impeachment trial and a reelection campaign, in front of a staunchly pro-Israel audience. Peace is meant to be between two peoples, not two people.

To be fair, the plan does include a number of desirable features. It calls for two states, the only approach that could satisfy Palestinian nationalism and allow Israel to remain democratic and Jewish. It allays Israeli security concerns. And it is realistic: it recognizes that the more than one million Palestinian refugees can be accommodated only in a Palestinian state and that the large settlement blocs containing hundreds of thousands of Israelis must become part of Israel.

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